wife: Do you know there’s a really good ramen place in Orange County that we haven’t tried?
me: excuse me?
me: …(trying to think of the most unlikely place possible)…that Japanese place by the gas station in the 99 Ranch plaza??
Whoa…I guessed right! According to a fellow blogger, this little Japanese eatery was worth checking out. Excited, we went there for lunch.
The place that is now Takaraya used to be a non-descript donut store. It’s not that much better looking: it looks like a take-out place that also happens to have a few tables and chairs. Don’t expect much in terms of atmosphere. But there are Hello Kitty bowls you can use, and a stack of Japanese magazines to browse through. A good sign. Not being particularly hungry, we settled on the shoyu ramen and pork rice combo.
I noticed a distinctly strong aroma when I set our tray on the table…it was strong and vaguely familiar. After taking a few sips I figured it out: black mushrooms! The soup had a strong mushroom smell, but had a light, almost watery taste. It wasn’t bad, but it was very non-descript.
The noodles were a bit on the soft side, without any special taste or texture. The bamboo had a “fresh out of the can” taste and was probably soaked in shoyu a bit too long. The pork was decent though; the slices were thick and tender enough. Overall everything was just very average.
The pork rice was a bit better. Maybe I had lower expectations of the pork when it’s not in a bowl of ramen, but I thought it tasted just slightly better in the rice. On a hot summer day, you can’t go wrong with a cool bowl of rice, green onions, sesame seeds, sea weed, and pork. Ah, refreshing!
The place wasn’t bad, it’s just not a ramen house. And I hate to say it, but you can get better ramen by walking across the plaza to the 99 Ranch market, and buying a pack of nama ramen.
Takaraya gets a very middle-of-the-road 5.
5408 Walnut Ave
Irvine, CA 92604